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#219: She Tripled Her Blog in Less Than 3 Months Doing This…

Today I have Anina Belle Giannini from the French food blog, Le Chef’s Wife, on the podcast. She tripled her blog in less than 3 months by running a simple soup challenge.

For 8-weeks she showed up live on Instagram and cooked soup. She created a different blog post for each recipe. She compiled them into an ebook which she traded for people’s email addresses. And she created consistent Instagram Reels.

And it worked. Her traffic, Instagram followers, and email subscribers all tripled.

She gets into the analytics in the episode.

But what’s most interesting about Anina Belle’s story, who started her blog in 2018, was that for the last two years, she felt stuck.

She was trying all the techniques she’d heard about to be a successful food blogger and nothing was moving the needle.

But putting together this simple challenge did it!

Anina Belle breaks down her strategy, the steps she took to create her challenge (most of which came together on the fly), and the mindset shifts she made.

If you feel like you are spinning your wheels, or not seeing the growth you want, you’ll find this story very informative and inspiring.

She Tripled Her Blog in Less Than 3 Months Doing This... | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Show Notes:

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Intro 0:04
Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. I am Jillian Leslie. And I’m really glad that you are joining me today for this episode. I feel like a proud mom. I’m interviewing my friend, Anina Belle Giannini.

And Anina Belle started working with David and I, the beginning of the pandemic, we ran our first six week coaching group and she joined it and she was frustrated.

She was doing all these things for her blog, which is called Le Chef’s Wife, because she’s married to a French chef. And nothing was working. And I could feel her frustration.

And I wanted to have her on the show, because over these two years because she joined our membership, and I’ve been working with her closely. I have watched her put all of the pieces together and start to explode her business.

How to Set Up a Paid Workshop Easily

And in fact, you’re going to hear that I am working with her to set up a paid workshop where she is going to teach people how to bake a baguette. And as simple as that.

And I’m doing this because David and I have launched our beta of MiloTree Easy Payments. And Anina Belle is now at the place where she is creating products. And I’m super excited.

So, if you are feeling frustrated in your business, like you are spinning your wheels, you’re watching other people have all this success, and you don’t understand why things are not working for you. I think you will be very inspired by this episode.

So without further delay, here is my interview with Anina Belle.

She Tripled Her Blog in Less Than 3 Months Doing This... | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

She Tripled Her Blog in Less Than 3 Months Doing This…

Anina Belle, welcome to the show.

Anina Belle 2:04
Hi, Jillian. It’s amazing to be here. I listened to your show for years now. So this is really a pinch me moment. Thank you.

Jillian Leslie 2:15
Well, I have to say that before we press record, I was telling you how proud I am of you. Because when we started working together, initially, back in 2020, you had so many of the pieces, but hadn’t quite figured out how to put them together.

So would you share your beginnings, what your vision was and where you are now?

A Food Blogger’s Beginning

Anina Belle 2:46
Absolutely. So, I had the idea for my blog, it hit me like lightning at three o’clock in the morning in January of 2016. I was working in Montreal, I have a career in luxury hospitality.

And I don’t know what inspired me to come up with the name Le Chef’s Wife in 2016. But I really wanted to share about French food, French cooking, what it’s like being married to a French chef and just have this kind of notion but didn’t really know where it was going.

And I set up the Instagram account and I bought the domain name and start posting about where we went for dinner and where we would buy our French baguettes in Montreal and all that kind of fun stuff.

And then in 2018 after I had my daughter, I had this burst of creativity. We were living in Washington DC at the time, which is where we live now, outside of Washington DC.

And I really wanted to start writing and start journaling for my daughter and translating what my husband does this fancy French cooking that comes from years of apprenticing in Michelin star restaurants.

And break it down in a way that there were easier to understand because I realized that I had started to become a pretty good cook myself in cooking with my husband for 17 years. I guess we’re saying I’m married to a French chef.

Jillian Leslie 4:13
But you are not French. You are not French. You’re Canadian.

Anina Belle 4:15
I’m not French. I’m American/Canadian. My mom is French/Canadian. My father is American. And I met my husband on a study exchange in the South of France when I was 23 years old.

He was the Executive Chef of a 5 star hotel in Cannes and we fell madly in love. We were engaged a month and a half after we met. And I lived in the South of France with him for eight years.

We moved to DC in 2016. And it was at that moment really that I started working on the blog and so I started the blog in 2018. My first post I think was 24 hours, Nice where to go, what to do in Nice France.

I didn’t spend much time on the blog I was posting every few months or so and it took me forever to put together a blog post. And one blog post would be about lifestyle. Another one would be about French entertaining.

Another one would be about French food. And another one would be about French fashion. And it was just kind of lacking clarity. And that’s actually how we met, that’s when we met.

Jillian Leslie 5:16
So, we were doing six week workshops during the beginning of the pandemic, to help bloggers really, really accelerate their growth. And you came to me and you joined, and we got on a call to talk about your business.

Blogger Tip: Be Relatable

And you remember the advice that I gave you. I remember two things I said to you. Go, you tell me what you remember, I’ll tell you what I remember.


Anina Belle 5:39
One, that I was too fancy. I’ve been working for 22 years in luxury hotels. Having a presence in a luxury hotel is a very important thing.

And I think a very useful advice that you gave me is to be a little bit more messy on my blog. To be a little bit more deques sin, as we would say in French, to not be as tightly put together as I would in my hotel career. And that was incredible advice.

Jillian Leslie 6:11
So I remember saying it to you and wondering if you were going to take offence to this. But I remember going you’re too fancy. You’re too aspirational. And I would say you’re hard to relate to.

Anina Belle 6:27
That’s not my intention. I think it’s a byproduct of so many years in luxury hotels. And that’s not how I am either.

Jillian Leslie 6:37
I know, now that I’ve gotten to know you, it’s not at all how I think of you. The thing is that when you are writing a blog, you want to be relatable. And I was like, “Anina Belle you’re not relatable. Stop it. Don’t be so fancy.”

So you took that, thank God, you took it with the love that I was offering it, which is really good.

Anina Belle 6:59
There was so much love there. And I felt that.

Jillian Leslie 7:03
And you did messy yourself up, you messy yourself up.

Anina Belle 7:03
It helps that it was in the middle of the pandemic. So any hope to live that has survived the pandemic, understands what that roller coaster was. Anyone who has worked in the hospitality industry the past two years have been a shit show. Sorry, can I say that?

Jillian Leslie 7:20
Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. And you have two kids now your life has gotten more complicated.

Blogger Tip: Niche Down

Anina Belle 7:27
I think I was seven months pregnant when we were speaking as well with my second so that helps messy things up.

But also another thing that you really pinned in on and I’m so grateful that you did is that you said, “Anina Belle, you have a food blog.” I said, “No, I have a lifestyle blog.” Like, “Anina Belle you have a food blog.”

I said, “No, no, no, no, no. One day it’s about fashion. One is about where we’re going. And another one’s about travel. And another one is about this French Riviera and lifestyle.”

And you very astutely said you have a food blog, you have a French chef in your house, who is teaching you recipes, that value you can give people and you were so right to say so it’s really my secret sauce.

Jillian Leslie 8:14
Because here’s the thing. Of course, I’d want to know how to cook French food. But that’s so intimidating. And to be honest with you, I don’t want to learn from your husband. I would be paralyzed.

Like he might be the nicest guy in the world. But he’s so far above where I am, that you have this amazing opportunity when being like speaking English, and being a mom and not like some fancy trained chef to translate what he says into my language.

Anina Belle 8:46
Yeah. And it’s really special too because above and beyond French food, his specialty and our specialty is French Riviera food.

And I love sharing what French Riviera food is because for me it’s a lighter, brighter version of French food closer to Mediterranean diet.

And yeah, I just really fell in love with sharing that with people that had always thought of French food as French Onion Soup and Boeuf Bourguignon and all the Julia Child classics.

We do those but we also do incredible things like the brazino with sauce is just like the most wonderful thing you’ve ever tasted, or French baguettes that you can do in under two hours.

Those are really dishes that I felt resonated with people and it made me so happy to help people to achieve success in the kitchen. When they never thought they would be able to do something like that.

And I never thought I’d be able to do French baguettes in my own kitchen on a Saturday morning.

Jillian Leslie 9:43
Those three things like getting messy, I remember saying be relatable, be relatable and you are.

Anina Belle 9:52
What do you mean?

Blogger Tip: Find What Makes You Unique

Jillian Leslie 9:53
I know. So that leaning into being a food blogger and leaning into your special sauce, which is, “Oh my God, I’ve got access to this amazing chef, but I can put my spin on it and make it relatable to everybody else.”

Remember, you only have to be one to two steps ahead of your audience. And in fact, you can relate to me much more than your husband can in terms of my skills. So I want to learn from you.

Anina Belle 10:22
And I honestly, Jillian, couldn’t see that because my husband is the chef. So, I have no right pretending to be a chef. And I definitely will never say that I am a chef because I’m not a trained chef. I’m a cook, I’m a home cook. I love to cook.

And I thought that that was his space. And then I realized that there was space for me in there and there was space for us. And we do cooking shows together. There’s an organization in DC called Alliance Française, it’s around the world.

But the DC chapter we’ve started doing live cooking shows with them for their members. And the two of us have so much fun because he actually becomes my sous-chef.

I’m there speaking to the camera, showing the recipe and he’s there making sure the pot doesn’t boil over making sure I don’t burn my baguettes in the oven.

Making sure that my vegetables are perfec and just ready for me to tip into the pan it’s a lot of fun.

Blogger Tip: Don’t Be Perfect, Shoot for B- Work

Jillian Leslie 11:14
So let’s talk about B- work. Because that is another thing that I think was a game changer for you.

Anina Belle 11:22
Huge, it absolutely was huge Jillian. I started the blog when I was on maternity leave. I know that sounds ridiculous to say, but I had a lot of extra time. I was used to traveling a lot was used to always being on the go.

And so then having time with my daughter who fortunately was a good sleeper, I had a lot of extra time. And so, I started writing blog posts at that time, and it would take me months to write one. And I would send it to my mom to proofread.

I was applying the same principles, I applied to my career of perfectionism. And just making sure everything is perfect before I press publish.

And I was applying that to my blog that worked well when I was on maternity leave and had that extra time. But once I went back to work and found myself as a working mom with a husband that has a demanding job himself.

And there just wasn’t that time and your advice of B- work was very freeing to me because I was able to make a distinction between Anina Belle Giannini, who does the chef’s wife blog, and Anina Belle at work.

And that’s another standard that I held myself to. Because it affects so many more people in this big organizations. So yeah, that B- work notion was able to really allow me to just hit publish a lot quicker.

Do I make mistakes? Yes, I do. Someone pointed out to me that I had forgotten to mention the recipe. The sugar in the recipe was in the instructions, but not under the ingredients and ouch, that hurts, that stings, of course.

And it’s still evoking emotion. I mean, how did I forget the sugar?

Jillian Leslie 13:12
Nobody died, nobody died.

Anina Belle 13:15
And nobody died, she caught my mistake, that’s wonderful of her. And I fixed it right away.

But B- work was incredibly freeing for me because that’s never a standard that I allowed myself to perform at. B- was not acceptable.

AninA Belle Giannini

And it’s permeated other parts of my life, which I really enjoy as well be like, “Okay, I don’t have it all. It’s not going to be perfect. But done is better than perfect. Here we go. Let’s go.

Jillian Leslie 13:46
B-, this is above average. I’m not saying just do average level work.

Anina Belle 13:52
It’s not good enough, Jillian.

Jillian Leslie 13:54
I know. Believe me, I struggle with the same thing. So I feel like watching you grow has been so satisfying. And watching you connect all the pieces and it does take a while like you listen to these blog posts, and I say a lot of the same stuff over and over again.

But it’s like we learn things at different levels. And you just recently put together a challenge that worked.

Anina Belle 14:24

She Tripled Her Blog in Less Than 3 Months Doing This... | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Blogger Tip: How to Grow Your Instagram Account

Jillian Leslie 14:25
And it clicked. And it was shocking how well this worked. So will you go through how you thought about it, how you set it up and what the results have been?

Anina Belle 14:38
Okay, so first I want to preface this by saying that I have had my Instagram account for six years. My blog for four years and was just not able to get them both off the ground. I felt stuck.

I felt like I could not get growth. I felt like whatever I was doing was not working. And as a sales and marketing professional that was also difficult for me, because what am I not getting here.

And felt like I was just treading through mud all the time, I loved what I was doing, I loved the message that I was conveying. But I just was not able to get any traction. And it was over to the month of December this past year.

As the Omicron wave began to hit, and everything was shutting down again, and my friend, Toni, of A Bowl Full of Lemons, whom I have been following for years. And she does this home organization challenge every January.

And I’ve signed up for three years in a row. And every week you do a new organization projects in your home. And I was getting excited to do that thinking, well, this time, I’ll actually have time to do, it to finish it.

Did I finish it? No, but I got a few weeks further than I normally do. And I thought well, maybe I should do a challenge. I love to cook soup. I cook soup all the time, especially in the winter, I find it’s the most comforting thing in the whole wide world.

And one thing that I grew up with is that my mom always had a big pot of soup in the fridge. And so I just had this spur of the moment idea, I think it was like the 24th of December to do a Soup Sunday challenge.

Blogger Tip: Create a Challenge for Your Audience

And I thought well, I’m just going to start cooking soup live on Instagram, because Instagram has been my channel of where I relate to the most. Where I had the biggest community and also where I felt like I had like-minded people.

And so I thought I’m just going to show up live on Instagram every Sunday morning and make soup with people and they can log in if they want to and we’ll make soup together. Without a real plan in place.

I thought this will be relatively easy, because I will just use my old soup recipes. I realized I had about 12 soup recipes on my blog from previous years and I just going to cut my way through those started off away.

I spoke about it to my husband, I think at the end of December and was like, “So honey, I think I’m going to do this. It won’t be that much work.” He’s like, “Huh um.” He knew it right away. He’s a professional chef, as you know.

And he’s like, “That sounds like a lot more work than what you think it is. But I’m happy to support you in this.” Which is amazing, because two kids on a Sunday.

And so, I started it off, I put up an Instagram story or I put up a post that I was creating the Soup Sunday challenge.

Jillian Leslie 17:27
So let’s stop there. You put up a blog post, and you started talking about it on Instagram?

Anina Belle 17:33
Yes, I put up a blog post and started talking about it on Instagram and highlighted my old soup recipes on that blog post.

And I built a blog page and I was so happy that I was able to build that myself Jillian. I’m so proud of myself. David must be very proud of me too.

So yes, I put that on Instagram. And then it’s Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons who messaged me and said, “Anina Belle, you should really offer something for sign up. Make people sign up for your email list.” I said, “Actually, Toni, that’s a great idea.”

And within two days, this was over the Christmas break. I put all of my soup recipes together on Canva and created this Soup Sunday challenge recipe eBook.

And then put that out as a free giveaway with anyone who signs up for my Soup Sunday challenge. When I started the Soup Sunday challenge I had about 500 people on my email list and then it grew.

Jillian Leslie 18:26
Wait, are you emailing these people to say, “Come cook with me live.”

Anina Belle 18:32
What I ended up doing was creating new blog posts every single week. I thought it was going to be all blog posts.

I was creating new recipes because I was so inspired by the community. I was so inspired by what people were sharing with me. It was absolutely amazing.

So I created new blog posts and in that new blog post I’ve made sure that would go out on a Thursday or a Friday or sometimes was a Saturday. And I would say this is what we’re going to be cooking next.

Or on Sunday would encourage people to sign up for the Soup Sunday challenge every time that would go and so it was great because I was creating one piece of content.

I had the photos I was creating the recipe and then was also using that on Instagram was creating reels with that as well. And so I got really good at creating a reel every single week about my new soup recipe.

And then on the Sunday would do the recipe live.

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Jillian Leslie 21:17
Now are you sending emails to your list every week to say, “Hey, join me, here’s the recipe, all the soup.” I want to see how all the pieces are all funneling to this.

Anina Belle 21:28
Together. So I had the email list which was getting my RSS campaign. So it automatically thinks it’s a new recipe.

Jillian Leslie 21:36
As soon as you post the post, it gets sent to your email list. And in that it’s saying here’s the recipe and join me on Sunday at whatever time and I’m going to be cooking.

Anina Belle 21:49
Yes. And if you happen to miss it, here are the other recipes from the Soup Sunday challenge and some other recipes on my blog. So, I was keeping people informed of what the recipes were and where else they could find them on my blog.

I also created a French Riviera cuisine Facebook group, which was another way to connect, I’m not as good at Facebook groups as I’d like to be. It was not the most natural way for me to engage.

And so, I don’t think I engaged as much there as I originally wanted to or would have liked to. But it was cool seeing the discussions there as well.

What I loved is that people were sharing their hashtag soup Sunday challenge photos, and they were sharing their own family soup recipes. If I posted a Magical Leek soup, for example, I would get people that were doing Magical Leek soup.

And then I also had people that were doing chicken and dumpling soup and another person was doing chili. And it was just this very open ended concept of let’s make soup together on a Sunday.

With the intention of eating better, less food waste, having warm, comforting nourishing food available. And yeah, I think people really enjoyed it at that time.

Jillian Leslie 23:02
How were you driving people to sign up for your list when you’re doing it? When you’re live, go to this address. Go get this and you can get the recipe. How were you getting people onto your list?

Anina Belle 23:15
So, I was reiterating the Soup Sunday challenge eBook every single time. I was talking about it in my Instagram posts.

I had it printed out and was showing it live and say so today we’re making the Magical Leek soup or the Minestrone or the French Onion Soup Gratinee, which was one of the most popular of course, and that happens like during the bomb cyclone.

Whether it was huge amounts of snow that we have on the East Coast, and I was doing French Onion Soup. So I was always telling people if they hadn’t signed up, sign up for the Soup Sunday challenge. You’ll be the first one to get the recipes.

And you get this free recipe eBook, which I was really proud of because I had 10 of my best French soup recipes. But now I need to make a new eBook because I’ve got now 20 recipes because I was building up new recipes every single time.

Blogger Tip: Create an Opt-In to Get Email Subscribers

Jillian Leslie 24:05
How hard was it to make the eBook on Canva?

Anina Belle 24:08
Really easy. It was copy paste, you get a template, I use the flyer template that I think was used in schools before as school newsletters and I literally just copy pasted my recipe over.

I’ve gotten good at using Canva because during the pandemic, I wasn’t employing graphic designers as much with my work and so I learned to use Canva much better. But it was really easy. You just copy paste.

Jillian Leslie 24:32
Okay, and you’re going live for how long every week?

Anina Belle 24:38
Originally, and I guess this is my perfectionist self rearing its head and also my husband’s influence on this. Originally I was just going to show a part of the recipe or I was just going to turn on the camera and talk as I was making soup.

That didn’t last very long. I realized after I think it was the Minestrone Soup demonstration I did where it started to lag. It went 45 minutes I didn’t feel as engaged and as energetic about it.

And I feel like people were not as engaged and energetic about it as much as I wanted as well. I was like, “Okay, I have to up my game.” And my husband has a lot of on TV cooking experience, he’s like, “You need to up your game.”

And so, he helped me to prep the recipe entirely in advance, make a full recipe, then really walk through the recipes step-by-step, and keep it all within a half hour timeline.

Jillian Leslie 25:28
So just the half an hour that you’re showing up?

Anina Belle 25:31
Just the half hour that I showed the recipe from start to finish entirely in that half hour, so it meant I had to have a full one done already.

Jillian Leslie 25:39
Are people interacting with you during this? And are you reading the comments and going like, “Hey, Michelle.” That kind of thing.

Anina Belle 25:46
As best as I could. Absolutely. And people were giving tips at one point that I will never forget this. My induction stove was not working. I could not get my pot to heat no matter what I did.

And I was pushing all the buttons on my stove. And one of the people that was cooking along with me said, “Ask your husband to go and flip the breaker that always works for me.” And she was absolutely right.

I called out to my husband who was taking care of our two kids. It was like honey, “[unintelligible 26:17].” And he went down and he flipped the breaker and the stove worked. So it was very interactive.

People were asking questions, I was asking questions to them as well about their favorite soups about ways that they like to prepare certain ingredients. It was really fun. And it was special too because I was it felt like I was cooking with people.

Every single weekend, I was cooking with my mum who would log in every single Sunday from British Columbia, Canada. I was cooking with friends that are based in France and in Italy and in the UK.

There was an incredible sense of community around the Soup Sunday challenge that I think people really embraced and I definitely fell in love with.

Jillian Leslie 26:56
How many weeks did you do this?

Anina Belle 26:59
I did it for eight. It was eight weeks.

Jillian Leslie 27:03
Were you exhausted?

Blogger Tip: Create Content at Consistent Intervals

Anina Belle 27:04
I was exhausted. But one thing I realized is that by doing something for eight weeks, it becomes easy. And it was like going to blogger boot camp for me because I’m so much quicker at writing a recipe now. I can bang out a recipe in just a couple hours now.

Whereas before it would have been something much more lengthy. I know exactly which shots to take to get the right shots for an in feed blog post and also for a reel. I know how to film for the reel to express the way that I want to express in the recipe.

I’m able to go through the process much quicker and so eight weeks was really blogger boot camp for me. I feel like a much more accomplished blogger at the end of eight weeks than I did going into it.

Blogger Tip: Track Your Metrics

Jillian Leslie 27:50
Now let’s talk numbers. How many newsletter signups email subscribers did you get and how many Instagram followers did you get?

Anina Belle 28:04
So when I started the Soup Sunday challenge and I was very happy that my director of sales and marketing hat was on when I was starting the challenge. I wrote down all my metrics.

I was at 6,500 followers on Instagram. I had 500 signups on my email newsletter list. And my blog traffic, was it 4,500 visits per month sessions, not pageviews, sessions. And so that’s when I started the Soup Sunday challenge.

When I ended the Soup Sunday challenge. I was at I believe 1,600 email signups.

Jillian Leslie 28:41
So, you tripled it.

Anina Belle 28:42
And then Instagram, I hit 10,000 the morning of the last day of the Soup Sunday challenge. And so it was quite celebratory. I was like, “Wow, that’s amazing.” I hit the 10k that I’ve been aspiring towards for years and was not able to get the 10k.

I was between 4,000 and 6,000 followers on Instagram for years. I was in the trenches. And then what’s the other metric? Pageviews, now at 12,000 sessions per month.

Jillian Leslie 29:15
So you triple that as well.

Anina Belle 29:16
So, I went from 4,500.

Jillian Leslie 29:18
Wow. Now wait, and then your Instagram because you’ve been doing reels because you’ve been doing lives. Where’s your Instagram now?

Anina Belle 29:25
It’s now at 33,000.

Jillian Leslie 29:27
Wait, you started this at the beginning of the year. So this has been three months?

Anina Belle 29:32
In less than a month. It went from 10,000 to 33,000 in less than a month. It’s incredible Jillian.

Blogger Tip: Create Content for Instagram Consistently

Jillian Leslie 29:33
What do you think that is? What are you doing?

Anina Belle 29:42
It’s reels. It’s reels. Well, I think it’s a combination. One, I’m so much more clear on my messaging. People come to lechefswife.com or lechefswife Instagram page for French recipes made simple.

I break down complicated French recipes and I break them down so that people with no culinary training can succeed at them, even if there’s toddlers running around, like in my house.

And so I think it really helped to focus my Instagram feed because I wasn’t posting all the other stuff that’s going on in my life. There’ll be another time where I will post everything that’s going on in my life.

Right now, it’s about food. It’s about what we’re cooking and how to do it at home. I think the focus really, really helped, and then the reels were extraordinary.

Jillian Leslie 30:35
How often are you making reels?

Anina Belle 30:38
I’m trying to do two a week with recipes. My rule is to do one new recipe and one old recipe, because as I’m going through, this is a great opportunity as well to freshen up my old content.

Jillian Leslie 30:52
How often are you posting just regular posts on Instagram, static posts?

Anina Belle 30:57
Regular posts, recipe posts, I’m doing three a week, maybe four.

Jillian Leslie 31:03
And stories.

Anina Belle 31:04
And stories, I’m trying to show up in stories every day. I love Instagram, I’ve been on Instagram for years. So it’s normal for me to show up, I’m just being a lot more focused on how I’m showing up.

I’m not showing a photo of our dog walking in the park as a post as much anymore, I’ll put that in stories. Or if I’m out. I did a workshop with my ballet class, I take adult ballet, I put that in stories.

Whereas maybe before I would have made an in-feed post. Now my in-feed posts are reserved to food and cooking and home cooking especially. And I think that helps because people know what they’re looking for.

It’s definitely a changing community, it used to feel like they were all my friends when we were 5,000, 6,000 people. And I would recognize a lot of the same people that are commenting. Now there’s a lot of people I don’t know.

But it’s also a great opportunity. I’m very grateful for the platform. There’s a lot more opportunities to engage and to really connect with new people that I hadn’t had the opportunity to come across before.

Blogger Tip: Create Products to Sell to Your Audience

Jillian Leslie 32:07
Now let’s talk about this. What are you doing to take this new growth and turn it into dollar signs? Because remember, I talk about this a lot. It’s not just about growing your followers.

Okay, so you’ve had this enormous growth, but it’s not like oh, you just sit back now. And again, like money shows up in your bank account.

Anina Belle 32:32
Exactly. And I have to be very selective with that too. I definitely have noticed there’s a lot more offers for sponsored content. I had done sponsored content from time to time before and now there’s definitely a lot more opportunities to do it.

But I’m very, very discerning. One, because I don’t have the time, I have a full time job and two kids and a husband and a busy life. And sponsored content requires a lot of time to get it exactly like the brand wants it.

Someone from a butter board reached out to me recently. I’m like, “Ooh, French butter. That sounds like that would be a perfect fit.”

Jillian Leslie 33:04
Yes. Definitely.

Blogger Tip: An Easy Product to Create is a Paid Workshop with MiloTree Easy Payments

Anina Belle 33:07
So, one thing that we are working on Jillian is doing workshops, because finally I am biting the bullet getting over my fear. And I’m going to be doing keyword workshops.

My first one is next weekend for my Baking Baguettes for Beginners series or Baguettes Recipe and so we’ll be doing that on the workshop. So I’m really excited about that. And it’s also finding ways that I can do it in the time that I have.

Jillian Leslie 33:36
Anina Belle, so we’re working together because you are putting on your first paid workshop, teaching people how to make beautiful, delicious crusty baguettes.

Anina Belle 33:47
Yes. One thing I realized living in the United States is that a good baguette is hard to find. I was working on this baguette recipe during the pandemic and first, was just a catastrophe. I had no idea what I was doing.

I didn’t know how to let yeast rise. I didn’t know how to handle yeast. I was intimidated by yeast. I didn’t know how to roll out a baguette. And after doing it 25, 35, 50 times became really really good at it.

And realized that there was something special about the fact that you could do these baguettes in under two hours. They’re crusty on the outside, they’re soft and warm and delicious on the inside.

Jillian Leslie 34:25
So, you are offering this what day?

Anina Belle 34:31
This is on April 2nd at 3pm in the afternoon.

Jillian Leslie 34:35
East Coast time?

Anina Belle 34:38
This is East Coast time. Yes. Saturday, April 2nd and I will be hosting my very first kind of beta test baguettes workshop and I’m really excited. I think I see a lot of the people that were part of the Soup Sunday challenge and then also new friends join in.

It will be live. It will be on Zoom and we’ll be able to ask questions and bake baguettes together and make errors together.

And I will hold your hand through making these baguettes, which is something that can be incredibly intimidating if you’ve never baked bread before, like I hadn’t a few years ago.

Jillian Leslie 35:12
How much does this cost to come?

Anina Belle 35:15

Jillian Leslie 35:15

Anina Belle 35:15
For $10, you will learn how to make baguettes so that you can literally wake up on a Saturday morning, decide you’re going to have a friend over for lunch and put these baguettes in the oven and they will be extraordinary.

If you want to go bake some beautiful baguettes with Anina Belle, head to this URL baguettesforbeginners.milotreecart.com.

Jillian Leslie 35:33
So let me spell baguettes for you. It’s B-A-G-U-E-T-T-E-S and then for beginners, F-O-R beginners, B-E-G-I-N-N-E-R-S.milotreecart.com It’s just $10 and I think it’s going to be delicious and fun.

Okay, so tell me what other ideas now are you putting into place? Are you working on to monetize this new audience?

Anina Belle 36:08
So another thing that my husband and I are working on that we’re very excited about is a line of spices. We’ve already sourced incredible quality of individual spices and we’re making an Herbes de Provence blend.

Because that was something that I realized in the Soup Sunday challenge people were asking me where do you get your Herbes de Provence. It’s something you can buy in grocery stores. It’s H-E-R-B-E-S [inaudible 36:43].

Blogger Tip: Find Unique Physical Products to Sell to Your Audience

You can buy them in grocery stores, but the blend is never like it is in the south of France. In the south of France, you will never find lavender buds in a herbes de Provence blend, because that’s not what you want to put on the steak.

And I realize in the United States, often the herbes de Provence blends that you find have lavender buds in them, that’s not good.

So, my husband has had a lot of fun in making our own blend of Herbes de Provence which we will market as Le Chef’s Wife herbes de Provence. And we also have other spices that we’re using that we use a lot in soups.

Star anise, or to say anise.

Jillian Leslie 37:17
Anise, I say.

Anina Belle 37:18
Anise in French is an incredible flavor for chicken boom. And so we’re going to be packaging up an incredible quality of the star anise.

And then we also have French sea salt. That’s from the Camargue region, which is Celtic Camargue, which is amazing as a finishing salt.

So we’ve got this incredible quality of spices that we cook with everyday in our kitchen. And we’re really excited to bring this to be able to share that.

Jillian Leslie 37:49
Okay, if you were to talk to you two years ago, what would you say to her?

Blogger Tip: Be Patient with the Journey

Anina Belle 37:58
Be patient, be patient. Really be patient and enjoy where you are. And keep at it. Don’t despair, don’t get discouraged. Trust yourself. Continuously learn continuously chip away at getting better. I’ve upped my photography skills.

I recently invested in a camera for my 40th birthday, my husband gave me a camera, which is amazing.

Just continuing to get a little bit better every day, and not putting the enormous amount of stress I was putting on my own shoulders to make it a success right away.

Am I where I thought I would be in March 2022? No, actually, I’m much further along than I thought I would be six months ago or a year ago. I still have exciting things that I want to work on that I haven’t been able to succeed at yet.

I feel that they will come. I’d love to write a cookbook. I’d love to spend more time writing. I love writing I love the writing process. I’m approaching it with much more serenity and much more peace saying it will come.

And when it comes it will be amazing. And I don’t have to change my life right away. I can enjoy my career and I can enjoy my kids. And I can also blog as long as it’s fun.

And also continue to work on these cool projects that are coming up and becoming more available to us. And I just love spending time as a family.

And that’s really why I started the blog in the first place was to do something as a family and to leave something for our kids.

Jillian Leslie 39:38
Anina Belle, if people want to reach out to you see what you’re doing. They have questions. Look at your beautiful food photography, which was always so wonderful, even way at the beginning. How can they do that?

Anina Belle 39:53
So you can reach me on Instagram at lechefswife, which is L-E-C-H-E-F-S-W-I-F-E. You can also reach me on TikTok. I’m trying to be better at TikTok, I don’t post a ton there, but I’m trying to repurpose my reels there as well at lechefswife.

My blog is www.lechefswife.com. So, L-E-C-H-E-F-S-W-I-F-E.com. And also on Pinterest at lechefswifeblog, that one. And I love to hear from you. I love hearing everyone’s love affair with French cooking.

And I love holding people’s hands as they discover something new, try something new succeed at something new, that I really love hearing about.

Jillian Leslie 40:44
Wonderful. Well, Anina Belle, thank you so much for being on the show.

Anina Belle 40:51
Thank you, Jillian. I can’t believe we’re here. This is actually really a pinch me moment. If two years ago, you had said, you’re going to be on my podcast, and we’re going to talk about your success on Instagram and with your email list, I would say, “No.”

So thank you, I’m really glad to be here. So grateful for your friendship, for your partnership for your guidance. And I encourage anyone who feels that they’re stuck, reach out and ask for help.

Because I realized very quickly, you don’t know what you don’t know. And sometimes just a few choice words, a few nudges in the right direction can really, really make the difference.

Jillian Leslie 41:32
There are so many great takeaways from this episode, including doing B- work giving yourself permission to not be perfect. The idea that sometimes it takes a while for things to start clicking and you don’t know where it’s going to come.

The outline I always use for building online businesses is you are a content creator solving problems for people who become members of your community.

And then as you grow and get traffic, you can monetize via ad networks, affiliate links, but also you know this community so well, that you can start selling products and services to them.

So I would say be patient and kind to yourself. Stay at it because remember, slow and steady wins the race.

If you are enjoying the podcast, please go to iTunes and give it five stars. I would be so appreciative.

If you want help setting up a paid workshop or a membership reach out to me at jillian@milotree.com and go bake some bread with Anina Belle at baguettesforbeginners.milotreecart.com.

And I look forward to seeing you here again next week.

Other Blogger Genius Podcast episodes to listen to:

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